cover image The Amorous Heart: An Unconventional History of Love

The Amorous Heart: An Unconventional History of Love

Marilyn Yalom. Basic, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-465-09470-7

Yalom (How the French Invented Love) traces the many iterations of heart iconography and its use as a metaphor for love throughout history in this dynamic study. When the heart shape first appeared more than 2,500 years ago, it had not yet taken on the romantic meaning it has today and was simply used for decoration. The first heart shape associated with the concept of love was conelike and appeared in the art of medieval France and Italy, and 14th-century European painters are credited with the evolution of the iconic, bi-lobed shape. Now the two-sided heart appears everywhere and is one of the most recognizable symbols on Earth. Over the course of this interdisciplinary study, Yalom examines the “heart’s turbulent emotions” in Shakespeare’s work, travels back to the first celebration of Saint Valentine’s Day in the Middle Ages, and explores heart symbolism in Christianity. Yalom’s book is a scholarly and fresh approach to art history. (Jan.)